JOIN THE CLUB: ‘Boys’ by night finally turn 21

BOY'S NIGHT: Rodney McKinnis, Rob Kitson, Andrew Senia, Steve Malesic, Ian Lapsley and Chris Wallis. Picture: Greg Wane 93070

WHEN the boys get together for a night out, the talk is often the usual that might be heard when a band of men gather around food and a bottle of red.
But one particular band of men has been assembling weekly for 21 years and from the start has always been something more than just a social gathering.
Three mates founded The Boys’ Night Out group in 1992 after finding themselves suddenly single and in need of cheap pizza.
The group has evolved through the years to a floating membership of around 20, meeting each Thursday night to decide on a different restaurant to patronise.
“We’ll have a group of up to 15 meet, go out and have dinner, a bottle of wine and be home again at a reasonable hour,” explained co-founder Ian Lapsley.
“It’s harmless fun mostly but it has a serious side as well. It has over the years been a support for a number of blokes who need a group to relate to, whatever stage of life they might be in.
“It’s somewhere to go and open up about your problems or any issues you might have. It’s just shared experiences, a form of bloke’s therapy.
“It’s an outlet for those who suddenly find themselves going through a shake-up in life and helps them get back on track. Life usually settles down but most have us have kept coming along.
“The boys talk the talk boys talk but once a year we organise an outing with our wives and partners and we’re on our best behaviour,” Ian laughed.
During its 21 years the Boys’ Night Out group estimates it has spent somewhere between $700,000 and $800,000 on food and wine in the region, supporting lots of local eateries along the way.
“It’s all about good company and pleasant surroundings,” Chris Wallis added.
“We meet and decide where we’ll go that evening.
“Some venues are a bit taken aback by 15 blokes trooping through the door but they usually recover pretty quickly,” he smiled. “A lot of venues know us now.”
And its Chatham house rules – what happens on boys’ night out stays on boys’ night out.
The entry isn’t quite free but it’s pretty simple: everyone brings a bottle of wine, preferably red, to share and puts in for the meal.
Members are acquired by word of mouth and personal introduction, with new adherents warmly welcomed, adding to the mix and cross section.
“We’re all from different walks of life, so no one has an axe to grind and it’s relaxed and casual,” member Andrew Senia said.
“We might still have the odd debate because boys will be boys but at the end of the night it’s handshakes all round and ‘See you next week’.
“The most animated discussions are usually before the night has even begun as the group tries to decide where to go.
“We generally choose a central venue because most of us are within walking distance and there’s no issue with driving after drinking.
“We like to support small businesses and we usually choose reasonably priced establishments.”
The group has lost three members to illness in recent years. Experiencing the loss has only strengthened the bond.
The group is not big on rules – if an issue arises the running joke is referral to the “constitution” – normally the nearest blank napkin.
And now that it has reached the adult age of 21, does that mean the Boys’ Night Out group has to mature?
“No way,” declared Ian. “We’ll be the same no matter how old we are, individually or collectively.”

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